Vegetarian-Suitable – Made using Microbial Rennet

A washed rind, sheep milk cheese made in the USA? Made in Missouri; the heart of Cow-land… how did this happen??? Luckily for all of us cheese nerds, a group of women own and operate a farm in the Missouri River Valley northwest of Kansas City… like I said… Cow-land…The sheep they raise are pasture-fed using strict rotation pasture feeding first developed in New Zealand. The Ladies of Green Dirt Farm, Sarah and Jacqueline, also believe in humane treatment of the animals they raise, allowing them plenty of room to roam and play with their friends and eating foods that are right for their bodies. The farm has received the “Animal Welfare Approved” Seal.

Now for the Bossa… a nova cheese for moi… This sheep milk cheese is washed as it ages giving it that distinctive funky, meaty aroma that The Man adores… The orange rind is edible, as are most washed rind cheeses, and inside is a mushroomy, nutty somewhat firm paste that melts in the mouth. With age it becomes softer and maybe a little gooey. It peaks in the 60-80 day range, so know your supplier.

When your guests start swooning, you can blame it on the bossa…

I give Green Dirt Bossa 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate, it satisfies that “Something Stinky” position. Serve it with a warm baguette and a dab of apricot preserves. You can add it to a grilled cheese and you’ve got yourself a winner with a couple slices of prosciutto.

Wine Pairing: A sweet, dry wine.

Beer Pairing: ESB

Awards: 2009 American Cheese Society Winner

Source: Pasteurized Sheep Milk

by The American Cheese Society
Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 3:14PM EDT  

MONTREAL – Want a back stage pass to the biggest cheese show in North America? Then sign up to volunteer at the 2011 American Cheese Society’s 28th Annual Conference & Competition this August in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

 

With more than 1,650 artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses from Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico needing to be sorted, judged, sliced and served, volunteering at the annual ACS Conference & Competition provides a unique way to get an up-close-and-personal look, sniff and taste at hundreds of artisanal cheeses, many of them not available on a national retail level.

 

Volunteers who offer time to support the ACS Conference & Competition in Montréal between July 28 and August 6 not only earn a free t-shirt to show off to their cheese-geek friends (past years’ t-shirts have gained a cult following amongst cheese groupies) – volunteers also earn a free ticket ($85 value) to the fabulous Festival of Cheese on Saturday evening. The Festival features all cheeses entered in the ACS competition, as well as a wide array of accompanying foods, wine and beer.

 

Learn more and sign up to volunteer at http://www.cheesesociety.org/conference/volunteer or email volunteer@cheesesociety.org.

 

The American Cheese Society (ACS) is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of farmstead, artisan, and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas. Over 1,400 members strong, ACS provides advocacy, education, business development, and networking opportunities for cheesemakers, retailers, enthusiasts, and extended industry. ACS strives to continually raise the quality and availability of cheese in the Americas.

 

Source: The American Cheese Society

Trivia: That’s The Lady on the right in the above picture…

 

 

 

 

 

Bayley Hazen Blue

July 3, 2011

Made Using Raw Milk

Let’s face it; the good folks of Vermont, for the most part, travel to the beat of a different drum. Despite their unbridled sense of independence, Vermont citizens also possess a great responsibility to each other and the land they call “The Kingdom of Vermont”. .. This attitude has also spilled over to my fellow observers who watch over that Quadrant in the NE United States and SE Canada. The Brain constantly finds himself spending precious time whipping those pesky, independently-thinking felines into line… not unlike herding cats… but I digress…

In the mid-1990s, Andy and Mateo Kehler, just out of college, headed to Vermont, land of many pleasant summer childhood memories spent at their grandparents’ home, with just one dream… to grow hops and make beer. What newly-graduated college guys don’t dream of making beer? In my younger days, I dreamt of my own endless fields of catnip, organically grown using sustainable farming practices… ah the good ole days…

The Brothers Kehler bought two hundred acres of farmland near Greensboro, Vermont and began studying the practicality of making beer. It just wasn’t there. Then came tofu; again it was a no go. They looked around and bam!! The light went on; they were in the middle of Dairyland. So… what do you do in the middle of Dairyland? You buy cows and become dairy farmers. Luckily for cheese lovers everywhere, that’s just what they did.

In 1998, Jasper Hills Farm was born and the brothers began to educate themselves on sustainable farming. Mateo, who had a degree in economic development, spent three years working with farmstead cheesemakers in the U.S., England, France and Spain. One of those years was spent working at Neal’s Yard Dairy in England. He also began to develop recipes for making cheeses appropriate for their dairy in the Northeast corner of the Kingdom of Vermont.

Andy has a degree in poli sci and philosophy… philosophy, now I finally know how you use a degree in philosophy… you make cheese… did I say that out loud??? (Andy, no disrespect… please forgive my free association… J) In 1993, Andy worked on a sustainable agriculture project in Chile, which included dairy operations. He is a building inspector and contractor which provided him with the knowledge and skills to design and build a state of the art dairy facility. And that’s exactly what he has done.

In 2002, the brothers bought a herd of 15 Ayrshire heifers and began their adventure making some great cheeses. And then another dream became reality… The Cellars at Jasper Hills… state of the art aging caves where the brothers take the young cheeses of their fellow cheesemakers, age them and prepare them for the consumer.

The Lady and I greatly admire the accomplishments of these two brothers who truly care for the land, the animals and also for other dairy farmers.

The brothers make two cheeses and one is Bayley Hazen Blue. This natural rind blue cheese, made from whole raw Ayrshire milk, primarily uses morning milk with less fat.

The Lady, The Man and I love this cheese. Because it is made with raw milk, the tastes of grass and hints of nuts are stronger than the blue mold making a well-balanced cheese. You get the best of both worlds; raw milk delight and kick from the blue. This cheese is a little drier than many blues and crumbles well. Your next cheese plate should finish with Bayley Hazen Blue.

I give Bayley Hazen Blue 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). 

Serving Suggestions: Even though it crumbles well, I would be reluctant to “waste” this wonderful cheese on a salad… of course, that being said, you’d be talking a superior salad. The Lady served it naked with a warm baguette. The Man swooned and while he was swooning I pawed off an extra serving for myself. The Lady noticed the paw marks but thankfully she was still feeling guilt at leaving me home while she was gallivanting in New York… so she merely smiled… You might drizzle a little honey on this cheese and serve with hazelnuts.

Wine Pairing: Tawny Port or a sweet, chilled dessert wine.

Beer Pairing: A chocolate stout would pair well with Bayley Hazen Blue.

Awards: 2007 ACS 2nd Place in the Open Farmstead Category.

Trivia: Bayley Hazen is an old military road that traverses Northern Vermont. Our first U.S. President, still a General, commissioned the road to carry troops to fight the British on the Canadian front, should one open up. No battle ever took place, but the road carried the first settlers into the Greensboro, Vermont area. The road is still used today.

The lady’s kiosk now carries three of the award-winning farmstead cheeses from Tumalo Farms. One, Classico, we have reviewed in the past. The other two were new to us and have happily joined the group of goat cheeses that The Lady, The Man and I like.

To re-cap the rise to cheese fame, Tumalo Farms Owner and Cheesemaker, Flavio DeCastilhos, left the Silicon Valley fast lane and moved his family to Bend, Oregon where he and his wife built a state-of-the-art cheese making facility and began making goat gouda-style cheeses and winning awards within the first three years.

In 2009, Tumalo Farms Classico finished second in its class at the U.S. Cheese Championship Contest, stunning many in the cheese world… I could comment here… but let me just say to those stunned… get over it… this man makes cheese that deserves to win awards.

In addition to Classico, The Lady’s kiosk now carries Tumalo Farms Pondhopper and Fenacho Goat Goudas.

Fenacho has a pale yellow paste peppered with exotic fenugreek seeds which give this cheese a nutty, sweet flavor with a butterscotch finish. While some might consider this a dessert cheese, your not-so-humble Feline Foodie (that would be moi) thinks it might all be gone if you lag behind thinking you should wait for dessert.

I give Fenacho 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate, you’ll have the crowd begging for more. As a dessert cheese, you’ll be lucky to have any left by the time the entrée plates are removed…

Wine Pairing: 2008 Reserve “La Creole” Eola Hills Pinot Noir

Beer Pairing: Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA

Awards: 1st Place – American Cheese Society – 2007; 2nd Place – American Cheese Society – 2009; 2nd Place – US Championship – 2007

Source: Pasteurized Tumalo Farms Farmstead Goat Milk

The third cheese on the plate was Tumalo Farms Pondhopper. This semi-hard cheese was the sharpest and most goat-like of the three. It is spiced with a local beer and while I can’t swear as to which one, my money is on the beer pairing below… We found the tang of both the goat and the beer to blend well and you can bet this cheese will appear at the manse again… to The Lady, that’s a hint…

I give Tumalo Farms’ Pondhopper 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: Pairing this cheese with cured meats is a slam dunk. The Lady brought home some of the Italian meats from Boar’s Head and even I swooned… normally leaving that task to The Man…

Wine Pairing: Pinot Gris

Beer Pairing: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Awards: 1st  Place – American Cheese Society – 2006; 2nd Place – American Cheese Society – 2009; 3rd Place – American Cheese Society – 2008

Source: 100% Pasteurized Farmstead Goat Milk

The Lady, The Man and I enjoyed these three cheeses on a cheese plate with a couple of jams and while The Man was busy swooning, I was busy snagging an extra portion, thanks to The Lady… gotta love her…

The Lady, The Man and I are fans of The Cooking Channel, the “Little Sister” of the Food Channel. This week we watched a special titled appropriately, “The Big Cheese” and hosted by Jason Sobocinski, Cheesemonger and Owner of Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro in New Haven, Ct.

He began the show with a bit of cheese trivia: The US produces the most cheese in the world with 350 different kinds and the US eats more cheese than any other country in the world.

In this special, Jason visited five US cheesemakers and either helped make cheese at each stop or chatted with the cheesemakers who shared stories with Jason. After each stop, he visited local restaurants and pubs and used the cheeses to create dishes.

The first stop was Calabro Cheese Corporation in East Haven which makes fresh mozzarella. Jason took us through the operation of making mozzarella, a fresh cheese made in just a few hours. The process sounds simple enough: pasteurize the milk, add the rennet to coagulate the milk and form the curds; drain the whey; cut the curd; salt the curd and brine. Right, it sounds simple enough but it takes talent to make cheese… ask The Lady, she has “assisted” twice making cheese.

After making the mozzarella, Jason headed to Bar Pizza in New Haven and with the owners made a pizza using the mozzarella. In addition to the cheese, the pizza had a layer of mashed potatoes under the shredded mozzarella on a thin crust. On top were bacon, garlic and parmesan. A few squirts of water and oil topped the pizza which was cooked in a wood burning oven for 7 minutes are 725°. (The Lady made a variation and the recipe will be posted on my sister blog later today.)

From New Haven, he headed to Oakleaf Dairy in Lebanon, Ct.to milk the seventy goats and then to Beltane Farms where he hung with the cheesemaker, Jonathan Howard. Although Beltane has its own herd of goats, which are protected from coyotes by Nestor, the family donkey, they buy milk from Oakleaf to use in cheesemaking. Jason and Jonathan made the first chevre of the season and then Jason was off to another local eatery, the Chester River Tavern where he and the chef used the chevre to make a snack baguette and then a twice baked soufflé.

Jason’s next stop was Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in the Hudson Valley north of Manhattan. OCSC boasts the largest sheep dairy farm in the US with more than 1000 East Friesians. Here Jason assisted in making a Camembert which he took and headed to Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern where he and the chef made small cheese croquettes using the camembert.

Then he was off to the West Coast for a stop at California’s Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese near Modesto. The cheesemaker and Jason talked about the award-winning Bandage Wrapped Cheddar that made Fiscalini famous.  Jason took some of the cheddar and headed to  Robert Sinskey Wines where the chef used the cheddar in crust to make a Bacon Onion pie and an apple pie… my oh my… both sounded and looked soooo good… hope The Lady was taking notes…

Jason ended the show with a stop at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese where he and the cheesemakers enjoyed a cheese plate and then a family style pasta dinner (in their classroom kitchen) that incorporated one of their blues. Jamie tasted a new blue that needs a name… The Man suggested “Reyesling Blue” – I posted his choice on their Facebook Page.

This is a “Must-see” show for cheese lovers and doesn’t everyone love cheese???  Jason is fun to watch and he knows his cheese. His passion for cheese shines through in every frame.

Here’s hoping The Cooking Channel decides to make this into a regular series or at least make recurring episodes – he has more cheesemakers to visit… so many cheeses…

I give The Big Cheese 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). 

The island of Pag off the coast of Croatia is home to a special artisan cheese, Paski Sir. Paski Sir is gaining worldwide recognition quickly as it amasses award-after-award. In 2010, it won the prestigious Barber Award and was named the World’s Best New Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. That’s one hefty accolade.

Through this blog, The Lady and I met Simon Kerr, the indefatigable Marketing and Export Director for Gligora Dairy where Paski Sir is produced (Simon is also a Master when it comes to understanding social media). He graciously offered to send a sample our way and we were thrilled. After sampling it, we felt we had been granted membership in an exclusive club… those lucky enough to taste this exquisite sheeps’ milk cheese.

Before reviewing let me share more about Pag and the production of Paski Sir.

The Lady was in Croatia in 1978 when it was still Yugoslavia and Tito was alive and kicking. She didn’t get to Pag but the week she spent in Yugoslavia is one of her fondest memories. She loved every minute she spent there; the people were friendly; the countryside is beautiful; the cities old and stately. Her favorite was the Croatian walled city of Dubrovnik. She worked in the airline industry at that time and was invited to sit in the cockpit while landing in Dubrovnik; ahh, the good ole days of aviation… but I digress…

The Island of Pag is off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea and enjoys a perfect climate for cheesemaking. Its eastern landscape lies beneath the mainland Velebit mountain range which creates the Pag Bora, a strong, cool and dry wind that comes off the mountains. When it reaches the sea, it creates millions of tiny sea droplets that the Bora dries and turns the droplets into salt dust. Then the Bora deposits the salt dust on the vegetation of the island. It is here that the Paska Ovca Sheep grazes on the vegetation, their favorite being the Pag Sage growing on the rocky landscape.  The aromatic sage is quite prominent in both the scent and taste of this cheese. Paski Sir is a perfect example of terroir and cheese.

Paski Sir has been produced on Pag since the 7th Century during Roman occupation  and today there are several dairies producing this cheese (and many other award-winning cheeses as well). Currently the main producers of Paski Sir have formed a Cheese Association with the intention of obtaining Protected Designation of Origin for Paski Sir to impose strict condition for production. It would also ensure that Paski Sir remains a product of Pag.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Gligora Sirana Dairy won the coveted 3 star Superior taste Award from the International Taste and Quality Institute for Paski Sir.

The Lady, The Man and I enjoyed a wedge of this cheese one evening and although it started out as the appetizer; it quickly became dinner. The cheese was so satisfying we were unable to just taste one or two bites and the three us finished the entire wedge. I suppose we should be embarrassed but we’re not in the least. 

The piece we had was aged about one year and the color of light caramel. It has a dense paste with some small eyes, similar in appearance to a Manchego. When The Lady sliced the wedge, a floral aroma filled the air and promised more to come. The first taste is light but quickly develops into a strong, piquant finish. A finish that lingers and grows as you enjoy yet another slice. It crumbles and melts and leaves you begging for more. The taste is unique and because this cheese is thermalized rather than  pasteurized, most of the floral of the sage plant is still delightfully present which adds to the enjoyment of this cheese. As a point of reference because this cheese is not yet widely-known in the US, this cheese is moister than Manchego and not as salty as a Pecorino but has similarities to both.

The Lady and I decided after enjoying this cheese, we are firmly moving into the category of lovers of sheep milk cheeses. Like the Sally Jackson cheese The Lady tasted at the 2010 ACS Conference, the taste remains in your mind and you can almost taste it again with only thinking of it.

I give Paski Sir 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). 

Sadly, Paski Sir is not currently available for sale in the United States but Simon told The Lady it should be available via wholesale through Grand Prix Trading of New York by mid-May, 2011. For further information regarding Paski Sir, please contact Simon via his Paski Sir Blog. Paski Sir also has a Facebook page you can “Like” and they Tweet as @PaskiSir. As I said earlier, Simon knows his way around the internet. His series “From Ewe to You” is informative and follows the entire production of Paski Sir from the Ewe to your table. You can win a wheel of Paski Sir – the details are on the blog.

Serving suggestion: Slice in triangles, leave the rind intact and serve this cheese naked to fully enjoy its flavor and taste. The Lady served the Paski Sir with a trio of Vintner’s Kitchen jams: Marionberry Jam with Port, Confetti Pepper Jelly and Strawberry and Pinot Noir Jam and VK’s Honeyed Wine Mustard with Garlic. She also had a peppered salumi on the plate and freshly baked French Bread.

Wine Pairing: The Lady enjoyed a glass of 14 Hands Merlot with this cheese although she suggests a Riesling would also pair well with Paski Sir.

Beer Pairing: North Coast Old Stock Ale . The Earthy sweetness pairs well with the salty tang of the Paski Sir.

Trivia: Pag lacework, also made on the island and used in the background of the Paski Sir label, was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.

2011 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest results are complete! Please note that only the top five scores in each class are displayed, yet all entries are listed in order of place.

 

US Champion
Katie Hedrich
LaClare Farms Specialties,
Chilton, WI
Evalon
Champion Round Score: 99.0695
First Runner Up
John Griffiths
Sartori Foods, Plymouth, WI
SarVecchio Parmesan
Champion Round Score:  98.9739
Second Runner Up
Holland’s Family Cheese Team
Holland’s Family Cheese
Thorp, WI
Gouda Super
Champion Round Score:  98.9522

The Lady sampled the Grand Prize Winner, Evalon, and you can read her review here. We have also reviewed Sartori’s SarVecchio Parmesan.

For complete list of winner in all 76 categories, Please click here.

Congratulations to all the winners!!

The Following cheeses and other items reviewed on the blog, all received 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got…)

34° Cracked Pepper Crispbread Crackers

34° Lemon Zest Crispbread Crackers

*34° Natural Crispbread Crackers

*34° Rosemary Crispbread Crackers

*34° Sesame Crispbread Crackers

*34° Whole Grain Crispbread Crackers

Abondance

*Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil

*Asiago

*Beecher’s Flagship Crackers

*Beecher’s Hazelnut Crackers

Beecher’s Extra-Aged Flagship

Beecher’s Flagsheep

Beecher’s Raw Flagship

*Beecher’s Flagship Reserve

*Beecher’s No Woman

Beemster Graskaas

*Beemster Mustard

*Beemster Vlaskaas

Beemster Wasabi

*Beemster XO

*BelGioioso American Grana

BelGioioso Burrata

BelGioioso Italico

*BelGioioso Parmesan

BelGioioso Provolone

BelGioioso Tiramisu Mascarpone

*Bellwether Farms’ Carmody

*Black River Gorgonzola

Cahill’s Original Porter Cheese

*Cambozola Black Label

Campo de Montalban

*Cantalet

Carr Valley Cows’ Milk Cheese Plate

Carr Valley Jenny Eye Reserve

Carr Valley Ten-Year Cheddar

*Comte

Consider Bardwell Farm’s Pawlet

Consider Bardwell Farm’s Rupert

*Cotswold Pub Cheese

Cougar Gold (WSU)

Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam

Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella

Crave Brothers Mascarpone

Cypress Grove’s Lambchopper

Cypress Grove Midnight Moon

*Denhay Farmstead Cheddar

Epoisses

Fair Oaks Farm Aged Gouda

Fair Oaks Farm Emmenthaler

Fair Oaks Farm Royal Blue

*Ficoco Fig Spread

Fiscalini Farmstead Premium Aged Cheddar

Ford Farm Rugged Mature Cheddar

*Fromager d’Affinois

Fromager d’Affinois with Garlic and Herbs

Golden Age Cheese Super Sharp Cheddar

Golden Glen Creamery Farmstead Butter

Gothberg Farms’ Chevre

Gothberg Farms’ Aged Gouda

Gothberg Farms’ Raw Milk Gouda

Gothberg Farms’ The Woman of LaMancha

Gothberg Farms’ Young Gouda

*Grana Padano

Greens of Glastonbury Organic Mature Cheddar

*Hawthorne Fred Meyer Meat Counter Has Got It Going On

Ilbesa’s Aged Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Ilbesa’s Mature Sheep’s Milk Cheese

*Ilchester Beer Cheese

*Ilchester Smoked Applewood

Istara Chistou

Istara P’tit Pyrenees

*Istara Ossau Iraty

*Kaltbach Le Gruyere

Kerrygold Aged Cheddar

*Kerrygold Butters

*Kerrygold Dubliner

Kerrygold Ivernia

Kerrygold Red Leicester

Kurtwood Farms’ Dinah

Laack’s Eight Year Extra Sharp Cheddar

Lapellah Restaurant

Le Timanoix

*Long Clawson Dairy Lemon Zest Stilton

Mauri Gorgonzola Piccante D.O.C.

Neal’s Yard Stichelton

*Old Amsterdam

Om Nom Nom Food Cart

*Parmigiano-Reggiano

*Parrano

Parrano Robusto

Pasture Pride Guusto

Pasture Pride Juusto

Piave

Portland’s Cheese Bar

President’s Comte

*Rembrandt

*Ricotta Salata

Robiola Three Latte

*Rogue Creamery Blue Crumbles

Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue

*Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue

*Rogue Creamery Oregonzola

*Rogue Creamery Rogue River Blue

Roth-Kase Bleu Affinee

Roth-Kase BrauKase

Roth-Kase ButterKase

*Roth-Kase GrandCru Gruyere

*Roth-Kase GranQueso

Roth-Kase Natural Smoked Gouda

*Roth-Kase Petite Swiss

*Saint Agur

*Saint Andre

*Salemville SmokeHaus Blue Cheese

Sally Jackson Raw Sheep Milk Cheese

Sartori Bellavitano Gold

Sartori Bellavitano Gold with Pepper

Sartori Foods’ Cheese Plate

Sartori Foods’ SarVecchio

Saxon Homestead Saxony

Sesmark Original Sesame Thins

Sweet Grass Dairy’s Thomasville Tomme

Tillamook 100th Anniversary Three-Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar

Tillamook Cheese Plate

Tillamook Cheese Curds

Tillamook Habanero

Tillamook Horseradish

Tillamook Ice Creams

Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar

*Tsunami Sushi at Hawthorne’s Fred Meyer

Upland’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve

Vella Dry Jack

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Bijou

*Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Crème Fraiche

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Cultured Butter

*Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Mascarpone

Villajos Artisan Manchego

Widmer Cellars Aged Brick

Willapa Farms Two-Faced Blue

*Indicates Cheese is carried on The Lady’s kiosk or Cheese Island

Whole Foods’ Cheese Plate

February 17, 2011

The Lady and The Man stopped in the local Whole Foods to buy some White Truffle Oil and while there, The Lady couldn’t resist checking out the cheese counter. Whole Foods carries many cheeses that The Lady doesn’t carry at her kiosk. She went through the small morsel basket and came up with six small pieces she used to make up a Valentine’s Day Cheese Plate:

Before I begin, let me express a bit of disappointment that two of the pieces had mold under the label side although the dates were well in the distance. We all realize this can happen, but when cheeses are in the $10-$40 a pound range, you’d prefer to know they are freshly wrapped. Also, a couple of the pieces were on the dry side which also indicated more age than the label dates indicated… The Lady simply trimmed the mold away; but had these been larger sizes, she would have returned them. Do NOT hesitate to return cheese to your cheesemonger when you feel its quality is lacking in any manner…

Now for the cheeses we sampled:

Boschetto al Tartufo Il Forteto Coop: this semi-soft cheese from Italy is a mixed-milk cheese using cow and sheep milk and added to it are black truffles. The cheese is both sweet and savory with just a touch of salt. The truffles add a pleasant earthy and garlicky flavor. Neither the cheese nor the truffles over-powered the other and actually were complimentary. The Man was quite taken with this cheese, although he didn’t swoon… ($38.99 a pound)

Next on the plate was Cypress Grove’s Lambchopper: A sheep’s milk Gouda made in Europe exclusively for Mary Keehn’s Cypress Grove. In keeping with Mary’s sense of humor, her website states that this cheese is “Born to be mild”. This was the favorite of the three of us, particularly The Man who actually did swoon while eating this sample. The Lady had to go through the “Sharing is a Virtue” drill… This cheese was sweet and tangy and although mild, the sweetness lingers. This is a cheese that The Lady calls “Kid-friendly”. And it is Vegetarian suitable. ($27.99 a pound)

Tumalo Farm’s Rimrocker: Named after the rocky cliffs that surround Tumalo Farms, this semi-hard cheese is a mixture of organic cow’s milk from a neighboring farm and Tumalo’s own farmstead goats’ milk. As it ages, the flavor becomes more full-bodied. The piece we sampled was a little drier than we felt it should be and The Lady plans to buy another piece at another WF and taste it again before making a final decision on that issue. The flavor was mild with just the right touch of goat tang. ($21.99 a pound)

Leyden with Cumin from Best Uniekaas: Leyden in a Dutch Gouda seasoned with cumin and caraway seeds. In Holland it is called “komijnekaas” which means cumin cheese but due to its popularity in the region around Leiden, it is exported as Leyden. This was our least favorite; none of us cared for the cumin flavor in the cheese even though we love cumin in Mexican dishes… ($12.99 a pound)

Cordobes Mitica: A Merino Sheep milk cheese imported exclusively from Spain for Whole Foods by Mitica. This cheese is similar in taste and texture to Manchego which is a favorite around the manse. Again, this piece was a little drier than we like but the flavor wasn’t diminished by the dryness and with Vintner’s Kitchen’s Port Cherry Marmalade, the taste sensations were delightful. One thought about the Port Cherry Marmalade; a little less liquid would be better. The taste, however, was perfect; just tart enough and just sweet enough. ($16.99 a pound)

Reggianito Argentina from Provvista: The last sample was Parmesan from Argentina. Reggianito, which means “small Reggiano”, is a hard cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano and was first made in this South American country by the Italian immigrants who missed the parms of their homeland. This cheese is produced in smaller wheels rather than the huge wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is aged 5-6 months and generally used in cooking or grated on pasta dishes. However, serving it at room temperature and as the last cheese of the plate was a perfect end to our cheese plate. The Man topped this cheese with a little dollop of Vintner’s Kitchen’s Raspberry Mimosa Gelee and then he swooned… ($9.99 a pound)

It’s actually hard to rate this cheese plate when the quality (due to post-cheesemaker care) of a couple of the cheeses is in question… but I’ll go with 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). However, I have to give the Cypress Grove Lambchopper 4 Paws out of 4 Paws…

Photo Courtesy Naomi Fujinaka

Thursday was National Cheese Lovers’ Day and The Lady Left Me at Home to Attend a Cheese Tasting with Waldemar Albrecht…Sheesh…

A belated Happy National Cheese Lovers’ Day to my fellow cheese lovers… aka… turophiles…

Let me ask you, my loyal readers, Is there any feline or humankind (for that matter) who loves cheese more than moi? Rhetorical, of course…

And yet, here I sat, Thursday, doing all the heavy lifting while The Lady was out, once again, rubbing elbows with a bunch of Cheese Swells… it’s just wrong…

The Lady claims that The Tualatin Country Club is another one of those “Restricted” places that allows no pets… what’s up with that… almost every manse in America is home to a pet, usually of the feline and/or inferior canine persuasion, but most public places where humankinds hang, won’t let a pet even peek through the door much less enter and mingle… it’s time for my fellow felines and canines to drop our differences; rise up; unite and protest this rampant discrimination…

But I digress… The Lady and her cheese friend, Cheryl, carpooled to enjoy cheese tastings with renowned Cheesemonger, Waldemar Albrecht, at the gentile Tualatin “No Pets” Country Club.  Waldemar recently served several years as Head Fromager (Cheesemonger Extraordinaire) at Artisanal Bistro. Today he puts together cheese and wine adventures all over the world and shares his knowledge and passion for cheese, wine and beer with other enthusiasts and professionals.

As for the tasting The Lady attended… I am soooo jealous…

In addition to several of The Lady’s fellow Cheesemongers, my friend, Naomi from Lactalis was there and sporting new, sassy glasses. The Lady met Sharee, also from Lactalis and they chatted about cheese, France and blogging. I trust (yea, right) The Lady explained to Sharee that I, your humble Feline Foodie, am the power behind the cheese throne and that The Lady is strictly a figurehead and spell checker…

David, Marcia and Kym from Willis Marketing helped put the event together with Lactalis and the folks at DPI…yep, the same DPI that banned my blog … Russ, Anna, Sarah, Debbie and Doug were all there as well… it was a gathering of the best of the Portland Cheese Swells… and I was left at home… again… but I’m not bitter.

The reason all these Cheese Swells gathered was to meet Waldemar and enjoy a journey through a tasting of the Mercedes Benz of Lactalis French Cheeses.

Waldemar began by sharing his knowledge of the basics of cheese: history and origin of cheese; types of milk used to make cheese; the basic styles of cheese and a few personal anecdotes. Then he took the group through a tasting of the cheeses and paired them with three wines and one beer.

The first cheese on the plate was St. Maure, s soft-ripening goat cheese log that ripens from the outside inward creating a creamy rim surrounding a lovely paste. The goat tang is there without over-powering and has none of that bucky aftertaste that The Lady and I too often find in goat cheese, such as the dreadful hard goat cheddar that is definitely banned around the manse.  The St. Maure paired well with the Hess Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Following the goat cheese, Waldemar introduced the group to Le Chatelain Camembert, another winner from the Lactalis family. This cheese is made in Normandy where Marie Harel first created camembert in the late 18th Century. This cheese is aromatic, which might scare the novice, but don’t let that stop you, this cheese is rich and creamy. Because it is “gently” pasteurized, it retains most of the authentic flavors you find in the raw-milk version you can only buy in France. This cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.

Next on the plate was the “Sister” of the Camembert: Le Chatelain Brie. This cheese is a notch up from the Brie that most Americans know; it has a kick like the Camembert just sampled by the Swells. As they tasted this wonderful, stronger Brie, Waldemar explained that there is little difference between brie and camembert. The basic difference is size: Camembert comes in the 250 ml. size (approximately 8 ounces in the US) and Brie is produced in the 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and 3 kilogram (6.6 pounds) sizes. The Le Chatelain Brie had aftertastes of broccoli and cauliflower… and The Lady loved it. It’s Brie… what’s not to love. It paired well with the Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon.

The next cheese was a favorite around the manse, P’tit Basque from the Pyrenees region of France. This half kilogram barrel which is wrapped in wax is a creamy semi-soft sheeps’ milk cheese that is made by Istara. The Lady felt it went best with the Rogue Chocolate Stout. This cheese is creamy, melts on the palate and leaves you begging for more.

Following the P’tit Basque, a French Cheddar – Cantalet – was tasted… I know, the French claim they don’t make Cheddars but this cheese is actually the grand-daddy of cheddars and was made in France before the cheesemakers landed in England. This cheese is made using the cheddaring process and that pretty much makes it a cheddar. The Lady and I love this cheese and it’s a very popular cheese at The Kiosk as well. The creamy, yellow paste of this cheese is a beauty and it’s mild and a great “kid-Friendly” cheese as well. The Lady thought this cheese paired well with the Adelsheim Pinot Noir.

After the Cantalet, another favorite at the manse, Comte, was tasted. This is probably the most favorite of all the alpine-style cheeses and The Man and I are always grateful when The Lady brings a wedge home for us to taste and enjoy. The Lady also likes to cook with this cheese. Comte is a washed rind; pressed cheese that universally pleases cheese lovers. Creamy, mild with just a bit of an after bite, Comte should be one of those cheeses you always have available in your cheese drawer.

The last cheese was also the first French cheese to obtain the coveted French PDO protection: Roquefort, the King of blue cheeses. Made with sheeps’ milk and moldy rye bread, Roquefort is aged in limestone caves and follows the strictest of rules throughout production. The version tasted was the Abbaye Roquefort, the Societe version sold to the US market. This cheese is medium in intensity and appeals to most cheese lovers in here. There is a milder version sold in France and there is also the Fleurine Roquefort, a super-strong version, sold almost exclusively in the region where Roquefort is made.  The Roquefort was an ideal match with the Chocolate Stout.

The Lady gives the Lactalis French Cheese Plate 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

She asked me to thank the Swells from Lactalis, Willis Marketing and DPI for putting this fabulous evening together. She also was thrilled to meet and chat with Waldemar and thanks him for taking time from his busy schedule to spend time with the group.